A wedding? I love weddings! Drinks all around!

As usual I’ve spent a large part of my time noodling around in the character creator during Guild Wars 2’s current beta event. I think I’ve got my characters planned, a Norn Guardian and a Charr Warrior, with the Guardian being my main. Of course m’colleague will snort merrily at this and tell you that I will, therefore, be playing a Sylvari Thief come release. I am certainly well enough aware of my altitus to not be able to rule out such a situation occurring.

The one saving grace for my Norn is that I’ve managed to create my own denizen of Rivain (because nothing helps immersion in a fantasy RPG like a genre mash-up), which will be hard to give up. This is helped somewhat by the default town clothes for the female Norn complementing the desired guise so terribly well. I present the following exhibits as evidence:

Brawling, booze and infeasible cleavage – welcome to Norn Town.

I’ve played through some of the early levels to get a handle on the various classes, and I’ve raised a few bug reports, so I have to say that I feel my time in the beta was both worthwhile and enjoyable. The game clearly has some work to be done, but then for all we know we may not see a release for six months or more. I think the important thing to consider is whether the lessons of beta have been learnt, the outcome of which will become clear when the next beta takes place. Regardless, I’ve seen enough –even in its current condition– to know that I will be playing the game for some time, and that it will probably become my new World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online – games which have both served me well for five or more years of play, on and off.

I can’t really report much on the game content as such, because I didn’t advance terribly far with any one character; I have no intention of playing through it all again come release – O, that way burnout lies. I’d rather save the content for when I can savour it, knowing that any progression my character makes will actually count for something.

The beta simply hasn’t changed my opinion for better or worse – I think that Guild Wars 2 will be a great game, that I will get a lot out of it, and that ArenaNet will have a very solid foundation on which to continue building their Guild Wars franchise. Is it going to change the world? No. Is it going to be a very strong player in the MMO market and influence those theme park MMOs which follow it? Yes, I do believe so.

I still regret not having involved myself in the original Guild Wars culture, and I don’t intend to make the same mistake a second time. The thing with Guild Wars is that it’s more than just a game – it is a community. Much like I find the game-play of EVE not to be for me, I can still admire the community. And I do. The devoted passion of EVE’s players is something which I also recognise in the Guild Wars community, as well as in the team at ArenaNet, and I feel that it is this passion which is intrinsic to the best of MMO experiences.

MMOs are more than just the games we play, they are the communities which form around the games, and this is what should make them different and special. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost this depth of community. Perhaps the player-base has been spread too thinly with the wealth of MMO choice in recent years; perhaps developers have failed to instill, or even enable, an appropriate sense of community within their player-base; perhaps players have been spoilt by the bigger MMOs, and a sense of selfish entitlement precludes a solid community forming. Certainly the latter point is my main concern for Guild Wars 2 at the moment, the sense of entitlement and complaint over the issues found in the current beta have been… excessive, to my mind. Wanting to have your issues resolved is entirely understandable, but the foot-stamping, nappy-flinging, red-faced wailing that occurs amongst a certain set of players every time they don’t get an absolutely immaculate MMO experience, or find themselves hindered by an issue for any longer than a nanosecond, casts the MMO community as a whole in a terribly bad light. It is healthy to lust for perfection, but only deranged fanaticism could demand it unconditionally.

So, Guild Wars 2: so far as I can tell it’s a great game, one which will not shake the foundations of the genre, but will almost certainly strengthen them; we’ll just have to wait and see if it develops the solid community it deserves to go along with that.

10 thoughts on “A wedding? I love weddings! Drinks all around!

  1. Melmoth Post author

    The chap in the second picture is scratching his elbow at our heroine – a really rather rude gesture in Norn society. She punched him out a few seconds after that screenshot. Turns out it was just an itchy elbow. Gotta love those crazy Norns.

    And just to show it hasn’t all been about pirate queens, here’s Mr Charr:


  2. Hunter

    For me playing the game has been a confirmation that I’m not wasting my time. I’m a super fan so perhaps my opinion that I’m loving the game should be taken with a grain of salt, but the only real complaint i’ve had during this beta has been the lag. I’ve seen few bugs and don’t have a problem with overflow servers.

  3. nugget

    Fraid I’m one of those nappy-nuggets.

    I’m not at ALL happy and will be avoiding all betas and news like the plague in the hope that launch will reverse my soggy batter when it comes to GW2.

  4. Pardoz

    The foot-stomping, diaper-flinging, breath-until-one-turns-blue holding was inevitable, utterly predictable, and self-inflicted (by both devs and players).

  5. spinks

    The EVE community is tight knit, but also has colossal amounts of griefers, accepts sexist and racist language, and is terrifically elitist.

    I’m not sure how to say this, but is that really what you want?

  6. Melmoth Post author

    @Hunter: I’ve seen a fair few bugs, but nothing that I couldn’t ignore during a beta event. I’ll be most interested to see what improvements have been made come the next beta, however; ArenaNet’s response to the beta feedback will be more informative than anything, as far as I’m concerned.

    @nugget: I’m sorry to hear that you had a poor experience. I couldn’t login for most of Friday or Saturday, but on Sunday the servers seemed pretty stable, so I found that to be encouraging.

    @Pardoz: I think it’s just a matter of managing expectations (by both devs and players). ArenaNet could have made more noise about the fact that this was a True Beta, and players could perhaps have tempered their enthusiasm with the fact that, barring a few exceptions, MMOs always suck for a while after the developers start opening the doors to the general populace.

    @spinks: Abusive ad hominem aside – no, I would want only the incredibly strong sense of community.

  7. darkeye

    At the beginning, my feelings about the game were similar, some things like scaling and repetition of events in the small (level 2-5) starting area were a negative point, but as I got into the wider zone, it became a lot more fun, exploring and questing becomes awesome (*spoiler* building snowmen to scare off grawl, getting jumped by a veteran huntsman and pack of icewolves, taking part in a meta event with a huge ice elemental that changes the weather in the area, drinking from an ages old keg hidden beneath the ice, defending a statue of Jora, taking part in an assault on the sons of svanir base (another meta event)). Most of it was pretty standard MMO tasks but much more enjoyable and absorbing the way it flowed together.

  8. Melmoth Post author

    The PvE certainly seems to be an interesting hybrid of questing and exploration – not quite as freeform as Skyrim, but not as on-rails as, say, Lord of the Rings Online. I’ll be interested to see how this balance plays out through the rest of the game.

  9. Pardoz

    @Melmoth – well, yes, that was pretty much my point :) The problem arises when developers tout their new game as the greatest innovation since spray-cheese in a can (and it’s exacerbated by using beta access as a carrot to pre-purchase the game) and players spend a couple of years whipping themselves into the frenzy of tweens at the latest boy-band concert or other major religious event. It’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially in combination with a beta-beta, as opposed to a pre-release marketing beta.

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